NHRC notice to Jharkhand on plight of child workers

Reacting to a report published in The Hindu, which told the story of illegal employment of children and their plight in the coal mines of Hazaribagh district, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to Jharkhand Chief Secretary Ashok Kumar Singh seeking a report within four weeks on the issue. The news report, “In Jharkhand, children slug it out in ‘rat holes' to make a living”, was published on April 5.

The Commission, which suo motu, took cognisance of the report, observed on Wednesday that the contents, if true, raised serious issues centred round the violation of human rights of the workers working in the coal mines, including children employed there.

The NHRC wanted Mr. Singh to give details of the number of coal mines — legal and illegal — functioning in the district and in adjoining areas, steps taken by the State to curb the illegal mines, safeguards provided to workers working in them, whether the State was implementing any scheme for the health safety of the workers, and whether the benefits of the scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) had been extended to the district.

The Commission asked the government what steps it had taken to prohibit child labour and whether there were a sufficient number of schools in the region for imparting education to children aged between 6 and 14; if not, what steps were being taken by the State under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

The newspaper report highlighted how the mine workers — mostly children in the age group 7-17 — worked in difficult conditions and under a grave threat to their safety and life.

It said that the workers hailed mostly from Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Assam.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 2:31:51 PM |

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